Ardee St Mary’s chairman Mickey Rooney calls for an apology from RTÉ for comments made about the club’s facilities on League Sunday

Ardee St Mary's chairman Mickey Rooney has called for an apology for RTÉ after the club's DEFY Páirc Mhuire grounds were labelled unsuitable for coverage by the broadcaster's League Sunday presenter Joanne Cantwell.

Caoimhín Reilly

Ardee St Mary’s chairman Mickey Rooney has called for an apology from RTÉ for the degrading comments which were made about the club’s facilities during last weekend’s League Sunday television broadcast.

Programme anchor Joanne Cantwell told viewers that DEFY Páirc Mhuire was unsuitable for the broadcaster’s cameras as Louth were omitted from the highlights for the sixth successive round, ensuring they remain the only county from across the top two divisions of the National League yet to receive RTÉ air time.

TG4 were able to erect a platform for the recent victory over Kildare at the Deeside venue and produce a package for their Monday night coverage, while RTÉ had a camera in Ardee for last season’s Division 3 defeat of Antrim, clips of which they screened within a matter of hours.

"There has never been any issue with any member of the press or RTÉ regarding the suitability of the grounds this year, and we have not been contacted to say there is,” Rooney said.

"TG4 got in touch with the club before the Kildare match and I met their man who put up the scaffolding for the camera. The grounds were perfectly suitable and the camera men were delighted.

“I got a text on Sunday night from a club member about what was said on RTÉ and I was very disappointed because I know the effort that I have made and the effort which the stewards have made.

"Anyone who comes in the gate who are working for the media – there have been lads down from Derry, Limerick, Kildare and Cork – have not had any issues and friends of mine from Kildare complimented the facilities that we have.

“This is the first time that I have been made aware that our facilities aren’t deemed as being adequate and to make that statement is nothing short of scandalous, and I would be hoping the County Board will seek an apology on behalf of the club.

“I have been on to Peter Fitzpatrick (the county chairman) and he is 100pc behind us. A request for an apology would have to go through the County Board secretary.”

The St Mary’s club have provided a delegation of more than 50 volunteers for each of Louth's four home games during this year’s National League and the senior champions’ base was commended by Croke Park auditors who were recently present for inspection purposes.

"After the game, we had eight lads out on the pitch, forking it, and John McBride, who looks after it, will come in and tend to it now,” added Rooney, who is an everpresent around Páirc Mhuire.

"We try to present the pitch as best as we can at all of the games and if you looked at it on Sunday, and compare it to MacCumhaill Park (Donegal), and the mud that is in the middle of the field there, outsiders can slag off the pitch and facilities, but you just have to look at the two together. It was a mud bath compared to how the grounds have been presented in Ardee.

“These things cost money too and to be spoken about like we were on Sunday night, saying that the grounds are not adequate, it’s a disgrace.

“We had an audit from Croke Park at the Limerick match and our score was 92pc. A few things let us down, simple stuff like there being no turnstiles, which we don’t have and that is not the club’s fault.

“We will do anything we can do to help and it’s great to see Louth football going the way it is. There is a great atmosphere around the team and among the supporters.

"Gavin Devlin (Louth trainer) came over to me after the game on Sunday and said, ‘I wish we could play all our games here’. He was only having a laugh but it does give Louth an advantage as lots of teams don’t know how to play the field.

“It might be a little bit daunting for a team that never has played there because of the crowd. The atmosphere that was there on Sunday and the pitch can be deceiving. People may think it’s a small pitch but it’s far from small. You may think it is but that's just because of the way the crowd converges on top of you.”